Study Rates Signal Most Secure Messaging App, But Should Users Be Worried?

With all the joys that social media messaging apps bring, they certainly have their vices. Chief amongst these are, of course, the accompanying security concerns. Unfortunately, messaging apps across the board have come under fire thanks to prevalent security and privacy flaws. Despite a recent study crowning Signal as the most secure among its peers, the question lingers: should users maintain concern over the general security of messaging apps?

Delve into why Signal may be the superior choice in terms of security while examining alternative safe messaging app options, and evaluate the current state of message app security to explore the measures that can be taken to stay safe online.


Signal Rated Most Secure Messaging App


In a recent report conducted by ExpressVPN, Signal was rated the most secure messaging app of 2024. The report, which scrutinised the most popular apps of 2024, assessed their privacy and security features to identify the top performers in safeguarding user privacy. Signal subsequently emerged as the frontrunner among its competitors, boasting an impressive overall score of 87%.

While WhatsApp, Telegram, Instagram, Threema, and Snapchat all followed on the report’s rankings, what distinguishes Signal in terms of its privacy stance?

According to the study, Signal stands out for its unwavering commitment to security. The app offers users a suite of robust features including end-to-end encryption, limited data collection, self-deleting messages, and safety number verification.

While Signal claimed the top spot, other contenders also demonstrated noteworthy security measures. WhatsApp, for instance, earned high marks for its encryption protocols, message deletion from servers post-delivery, device verification, and automatic security code implementation. Similarly, Telegram impressed with its cloud-based infrastructure, facilitating group chats and channels while ensuring encryption, self-destructing secret chats, and public username options.

Nevertheless, despite these efforts, Signal seems to consistently emerge as a leader in security assessments across various platforms. Not only has this been recognised by ExpressVPN, but PC Mag named it the top messaging app of 2024 for overall security, while other publications including Avast, Tom’s Guide, and Tech Radar have also noted its excellence in security.

Ultimately, it seems fair to state that Signal is a relatively safe bet when it comes to selecting a messaging app, but this doesn’t dispel the wider security concerns prevalent within the messaging app industry. Let’s delve deeper into these concerns.

The Landscape of Message App Security Concerns

One only needs to consider Cobalt’s report to understand the importance of messaging app security. This report suggests that roughly 2,200 cyber attacks occur daily, equating to nearly one attack every 39 seconds. Such alarming figures underscore the critical need to safeguard personal information online.

Unfortunately, many social media messaging apps have faced scrutiny for privacy vulnerabilities, ranging from data breaches to unauthorised access to data collection. Indeed, whether you’re using email platforms, social media channels, or voice and video calling apps, all these messaging platforms are susceptible to security flaws that can compromise privacy and exploit user data.

A glaring example of a so-called “secure” messaging system that has fallen short of expectations is Facebook Messenger. Despite claiming end-to-end encryption to ensure messages are solely accessible by sender and recipient, plenty have hit out against the app. Even Facebook itself, as reported by Forbes, acknowledges the risks associated with non-encrypted messages unless users activate “secret conversations,” wherein messages can be deleted from the app.

This underscores a crucial point: even widely used messaging apps may not prioritise user safety adequately. Consequently, social media users and the vast amounts of private data they transmit through these platforms remain vulnerable to various security threats.


Consequences of Insufficient User Security

If users and their personal data are not properly protected by apps, several unwanted consequences can occur. Consequences of inadequate user security may include:

  • Exploitation of Data: Various entities, from advertisers to governments to cybercriminals, may exploit user data for targeted campaigns or cyber threats
  • Phishing and Malware: Users are at risk of phishing attacks and malware distribution via messaging apps, endangering personal data and device security
  • Encryption Challenges: Despite claims of end-to-end encryption, flaws in implementation or weak protocols can jeopardise user data security
  • Security Backdoors: Suspicions persist regarding the existence of security backdoors in messaging apps, potentially exposing users to exploitation by malicious actors or surveillance agencies

This highlights just a few potential consequences that can occur when messaging apps neglect user safety. So, should users be concerned, and how can individuals ensure their safety in the online realm?


Separating Fact from Fear: Should Users Worry?

In short: should messaging app users really be concerned, or is this a problem that’s simply being blown out of proportion and something you need a cyber security certification to understand?

Ultimately, it’s always important to stay on one’s guard. Even if you have never experienced cyberattacks, vigilance is key to ensuring this remains the case. Even with the most secure messaging apps like Signal, it’s crucial to take proactive steps to ensure online safety, especially since most individuals rely on multiple messaging platforms daily.


How to Stay Safe Using Messaging Apps

While this may feel overwhelming, it’s not all doom and gloom. While the security concerns that plague messaging apps are undeniable, this doesn’t mean there are not plenty of proactive measures that can protect your online safety:

  • Opt For a Secure App: Given the aforementioned report, it would be remiss not to mention that the app you choose is important is crucial for user safety. Look for apps that prioritise privacy and offer features like end-to-end encryption and robust data protection measures
  • Choose a Strong Password: However tempting it may be – don’t use the same password for everything! Moreover, ensure all passwords are strong and unique by ensuring they are comprised of letters, numbers, and special characters to enhance security
  • Keep Apps Updated: While endless requests to update your apps may seem tiresome, it’s important to stay on top of this. Regularly update your messaging apps and device operating system to install the latest security enhancements, reducing vulnerability to cyber threats
  • Be Wary of Links and Attachments: Always exercise caution when clicking on links or downloading attachments within messages, especially from unknown sources, as these could harbour sinister hopes of stealing your personal data
  • Verify Contacts: Received a message from an unknown source? Before sharing sensitive information or engaging in conversations with unfamiliar contacts, verify their identities to prevent falling victim to impersonation or phishing attempts
  • Stay Alert to Scams: Remain wary of suspicious messages from unknown contacts as these may be scams or phishing attempts. Common examples include requests for personal or financial information and offers that seem too good to be true. Report and block suspicious contacts or activities immediately